Differences in Blood Cancer Experience

In our 2018 Blood Cancer In America survey, over 2,500 people impacted by blood cancer shared their experiences about diagnosis, treatment, and living with blood cancer. Blood cancer is an umbrella term that encompasses several different types of cancer, and our survey results indicated several differences, as well as many similarities, between the different blood cancer types.

Types of blood cancer among survey respondents

  • 33% Multiple myeloma
  • 32% Lymphoma
  • 29% Leukemia
  • 6% Other (including MDS and MPN)
  • 1% were in the process of being diagnosed

Differences in quality of life

Dealing with blood cancer, its treatment (which can be grueling), and the emotional impact greatly impacts an individual’s quality of life. However, there were differences in this impact among the different types of blood cancer. People with lymphoma have the highest quality of life among the different groups, and they were most likely to be working and enjoying life. Survey respondents with lymphoma were also most likely to be NED (no evidence of disease), which may influence their higher quality of life rating. Among those with lymphoma, those with Hodgkin lymphoma had a lower quality of life than those with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and they were more likely to have difficulties with work or school.

Differences in time to diagnosis

There are several tests used to diagnose blood cancer, and while the different types have some variation, many of the tests are used for all types of blood cancer. As for the time it takes to get that diagnosis, those with leukemia have the fastest time from detection to diagnosis, with the majority being diagnosed within two weeks: 86% of those with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 72% of those with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), and 59% of those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) were diagnosed within two weeks.

Differences in approach to treatment

Each type of blood cancer has its own recommended treatment, although across all the types, most (69% of all survey respondents) are treated with some form of chemotherapy. The way people approach their treatment is different, however. Survey results showed that those with multiple myeloma more commonly seek a second opinion and are most likely to be satisfied with their healthcare professional. Those with multiple myeloma were also most likely to have stopped treatment due to side effects.

Differences in managing side effects

Treatment for blood cancer comes with a range of side effects that are taxing on the body and a person’s outlook. Among survey respondents, those with lymphoma are most likely to use medications to help manage nausea and vomiting, and these individuals were also more likely to say their symptoms were under control with their current treatment plan.

Similarities between types

Despite these differences, those impacted by blood cancer are united in the many similarities of their journeys. From the anxiety while waiting for a diagnosis to the trials and challenges of treatment, members of our blood cancer community can relate to each other through many shared experiences.

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